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Connecting the Dots of the Steroid Scandal

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Here’s some information that you won’t get from any of the so-called mainstream media outlets, the networks, ESPN, Sports Illustrated or any of the big media market newspapers.

I am going to connect the dots and show you how baseball got messed up with – and on – steroids.

This “family tree of steroids” is remarkable because it provides us with a “plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face” path from the past to the present. I promise that once you look at this info, you will find the protestations of those who say they “didn’t know” to be preposterous.

And the last teaser before I lay this out is that many of the same people have been at the scenes of the crime for the past 20 years. So without further ado….

To get the perfect picture of the genealogy of this scandal, I’m going to start with what happened during the Congressional Hearings and then jump back in time to where it all begins.

This past Thursday, the “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” for baseball, we heard testimony from Sandy Alderson who has been the executive vice president of baseball operations for major league baseball since 1998. Mr. Alderson is an important figure in this whole mess not because of his current position, but because he was the General Manager of the Oakland A’s from 1984-1997, the team where, and the period when, the steroid scandal took root in baseball.

During his statement Thursday Alderson said,
“In the early and mid-1980s, the Oakland Athletics embarked on many innovative programs. We were the first to embrace quantitative analysis for the evaluation of players…We may have been the first team to promote strength training and to configure a team weight room at the ballpark. At the Major League level, a former Major League player already on the coaching staff was assigned additional responsibility as the strength coach.” (My emphasis.)

Let us now jump to the past.

This former player turned strength coach was Dave McKay. In 1990 Dave McKay co-authored a book titled Strength Training for Baseball with none other than Jose Canseco.

Now we’re going go to another part of Alderson’s statement from the hearings,
“There did come a time, however, when I did wonder whether Jose Canseco might be using steroids. There was a column written in late 1988 that speculated about his steroid use and led to a brief fan reaction in Boston during the 1988 playoffs. But his reaction to the speculation was a vehement denial, a much different response than the recent admissions in his book. Also, probably in 1989, Canseco reported to spring training markedly bigger and more physically developed than he had been the year before.” (My emphasis, again!)

So, the A’s had a strength coach who worked intimately with Canseco, and even wrote a book with him about his training methods, at exactly the same time the team “wondered” if Canseco was using steroids. Did it cross Mr. Alderson’s mind to consult with the team employee who’s responsibility it was to handle this issue and who was obviously close to Canseco?

Did Canseco hide his drug use from his training buddy, coach and co-author? Did Canseco share his “secret” with his coach or was his coach involved with the whole thing? Or was his coach, despite his position and education, a clueless buffoon?

Have you started to see where this is going yet? Just wait, as this story gets better.

Now the manager of the Oakland A’s during Canseco’s tenure was Tony LaRussa, and LaRussa managed the team from 1986-1995. Dave McKay was on LaRussa’s staff through the 1995 season.

Canseco was in Oakland from 1985-1992 and returned in 1997. Mark McGwire arrived in Oakland in 1986 and stayed into the 1997 season. This is the first generation of the drug scandal.

The second generation of the drug scandal started when Jason Giambi joined the A’s minor league system in 1992 and moved on up to the majors in 1995. And in 1993 Bob Alejo – the man who is now known as Giambi’s personal conditioning guru – joined the A’s where he was the conditioning coach, a title that he held until he followed Giambi to the New York Yankees. Since arriving in New York, Giambi has fought, with a suspicious level of obsession – to have Alejo accompany Giambi and the Yanks as if he were a team employee.

Is everyone with me so far? Good.

Now you would have thought that this happy family would have broken up for good when Canseco was traded away during the 1992 season, and when LaRussa left Oakland after the 1995 season. But these old ties are hard to break.

Canseco was reunited with McGwire briefly during the 1997 season when A’s General Manager Alderson re-acquired Canseco from the Red Sox. This reunion was short lived as Alderson turned around and traded McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals after 105 games.

However, for the entire spring training and about 100 regular season games of this 1997 season Canseco, McGwire, Giambi and Alejo were working together as teammates under the watchful eye of A’s General Manager Sandy Alderson.

Doesn’t anyone find it suspicious that Alderson would take Canseco back in 1997 and trade McGwire during the same season? What were whispers about Jose’s steroid use in the late 80’s and early 90’s had become ear-splitting shouts by 1997. Is Alderson that clueless or didn’t he care? Hadn’t he learned anything in the eight or nine years that had passed since the Boston fans hit Jose with the “Steroids, Steroids” cheer?

But what happened to Tony LaRussa after he left Oakland? Well, he became the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, accompanied by none other than the former and original A’s strength coach – and Jose’s co-authoring workout buddy – Dave McKay. And as I mentioned above, McGwire was sent to the Cardinals at the trading deadline during the 1997 season, where he fizzled out, I mean finished out his career after the 2001 season.

This is McKay’s 20th season of being a member of LaRussa’s staff. The Cardinal pitching coach, Dave Duncan, is also entering his 20th season with LaRussa having followed him from Oakland to St. Louis. That’s a lot of loyalty, isn’t it? Just imagine the stories that these guys can tell, imagine what they really know about not only their team but about each other’s personal lives.

Has anyone heard anything from McKay? Aside from LaRussa’s ridiculous comment that he “believes in Mark” has he been asked any tough questions?

Why weren’t McKay and LaRussa asked to appear in front of the Congressional Committee?

And what about Bob Alejo, who is still attached to Giambi’s hip in New York? He was on the scene and is supposed to be a certified professional strength and conditioning coach, wouldn’t you think he would know if something fishy was going on?

I will tell you this much, as a teenager in the late 1970’s when I saw guys add huge amounts of muscle to their physiques – and make crazy strength gains – over a short period of time I knew what was going on. It strains credulity – actually strangles and mutilates credulity – to say that professional coaches didn’t know what was happening under their nose, and somehow weren’t a part of it.

How could an employer put up with this kind of ineptitude?

I find it amazing that LaRussa and McKay have been on the scene in both Oakland and St. Louis, and that McKay in particular – as a strength coach – had close contact with Canseco, McGwire in Oakland AND St. Louis, Giambi and Alejo.

I am baffled that McKay was not mentioned in Canseco’s book and in his testimony.

I am shocked that some big-time reporter hasn’t picked up on these obvious connections and made a case for a conspiracy of silence that existed in baseball as players were getting jacked so they could jack home runs.

There are only two conclusions that can be arrived at when viewing this info; either baseball people were totally inept to an almost criminal extent or that baseball
people didn’t care that players were using steroids.

What do you think?

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About Sal Marinello

  • This is a great entry…There is no doubt that Alderson, LaRussa and Selig knew exactly what was going on…what they did went well beyond looking the other way…I think that they actually encouraged it by completely ignoring it…They never considered it a “problem”…Afterall, with all the money that the league was making at the time, the last thing they were going to do was rock the boat.